Mullis: 20 Down, 20 to Go

The Georgia General Assembly is now halfway through the 40-day legislative session and just days away from a significant deadline. The 30th day of the legislative session—also known as Crossover Day—is the last day for Senate bills to transfer to the House for consideration, and vice versa. We are now deep into the committee process and each committee is reviewing its assigned bills. It’s important that each bill is carefully vetted to make sure it’s impact will be positive for all Georgians, and that these same bills are free of unintended consequences or negative impact.

The Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court delivers the State of the Judiciary address to the Georgia General Assembly each year. This event was observed by a joint session of the Senate and House last week. During this address, Chief Justice Hugh P. Thompson highlighted the lack of accessibility to legal services in Georgia, especially among poor and rural populations. Because of inadequate legal services, courts statewide are seeing an increase in the number of people representing themselves.

Chief Justice Thompson also provided an update on the Criminal Justice and Juvenile Justice reforms passed in recent years and outlined one of the greatest successes in the history of Georgia’s judicial system: the expansion of accountability courts. These courts save taxpayer money and increase public safety by reducing the number of non-violent repeat offenders through treatment and strict accountability measures.

The Senate took legislative action on a number of bills in several different policy areas last week. These bills will now transfer to the House for consideration or to the Governor’s desk for his signature. Some of the more notable bills include:

House Bill 399 This legislation changes existing law regarding local possession or use of properties for airports. The bill ensures airport stores and kiosks are not subject to ad valorem taxation, provided the local interest in that specific store or kiosk creates an estate in land. Status: On Governor’s desk.

House Bill 743 The Senate’s version of the Amended Fiscal Year 2014 Budget, also known as the supplemental budget, was set $20.2 billion and included increases for K – 12 education, child welfare services and health care for teachers. If the House agrees to minor changes made by the Senate during our budget process, the bill will receive final passage and go to the Governor’s desk. If not, a conference committee will be appointed to negotiate the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill. Status: Passed Senate; House to review Senate’s adjustments.

Senate Bill 283 SB 283 would allow public school systems to educate students about the history of traditional winter celebrations and greetings without policy constraints. Status: Passed Senate; under consideration in House.

Senate Bill 288 SB 288 would require all interscholastic athletic agencies to annually provide a copy of the previous year’s finances to all members. The report must cover all activities and include a summary of assets, liabilities, incomes and operating expenses. Status: Passed Senate; under consideration in House.

Senate Resolution 736 SR 736 calls for a convention of the states to propose amendments to the U.S. Constitution, specifically to impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and limit the terms of office for its officials and for members of Congress. Status: Passed Senate; under consideration in House.

I encourage anyone with questions about the bills mentioned above, or any other legislation, to contact my office at any time. As always, it is an honor and a privilege to represent District 53 at the Georgia State Capitol.

Georgia state Sen. Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, serves as Chairman of the Rules Committee. He represents the 53rd Senate District, which includes Catoosa, Dade, and Walker counties and portions of Chattooga County. He can be reached at his office in Atlanta at 404.656.0057 or by email at jeff.mullis@senate.ga.gov.

About the author

Jeff Mullis

Georgia state Sen. Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, serves as Chairman of the Rules Committee. He represents the 53rd Senate District, which includes Catoosa, Dade, and Walker counties and portions of Chattooga County. He can be reached at his office in Atlanta at 404.656.0057 or by email at jeff.mullis@senate.ga.gov.